Homeopathy in Organic Livestock ProductionGlen Dupree, DVM
Written for both organic farmers and homeopaths, this book is a comprehensive and indispensiable guide for the application of homeopathy on sustainable livestock farms.
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SRP: “Strange, Rare, and Peculiar” or “Symptoms, Remedies, and Probability”?
Glen Dupree, DVM
Susan Beal, DVM
American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine
Vol. 98 No. 3 Autumn 2005 pg. 172-173
Great advances in discovery and understanding have historically occurred when thinkers and philosophers have looked at common things in uncommon ways. Consider the course of events initiated when Sir Isaac Newton took a fresh look at a falling apple and decided there must be a force causing the action; or, when Charles Darwin looked at the diversity of species and speculated that there must be a reason why they developed as they had; or, when Samuel Hahnemann looked at the action of medicines and decided they could cure because they could cause. All common, everyday occurrences which took on historical significance because someone looked at them in a new and different way.
Unfortunately the ability to look at common things in uncommon and paradigm changing ways is a talent possessed by few and exercised by fewer. Human nature, with its comfort in the known and its familiarity in the status quo, may be partly to blame.
This is particularly true in the field of Homeopathy. We, as modern day Homeopaths, are perhaps reticent to look anew at the workings of Homeopathy or to search for new explanations for several reasons. We have over two hundred years of experiential and anecdotal evidence which suggests that Homeopathy does indeed work (so there, we don’t have to look any further!). We have the clinical experience of Hahnemann, Kent, Hering, Allen, Boenninghausen, Dudgeon, and others to suggest the proper ways to apply the laws of Homeopathy. We have the comfort of knowing that if
we do our work properly, our patients will respond (whether we have a working explanation of the subtle workings of the remedy or not).
Also, we live in a world where the current scientific paradigm cannot explain the things we see when the correct Homeopathic remedy has been given to a patient (and if it cannot be explained scientifically using the valid science of the day, can it really be explained at all? We see Homeopathy work, we see the results in our patients, is not that alone sufficient?) Peering into the darkness of the unknown can be unsettling so why bother?
Why bother, indeed! In a field as elegant and as universally applicable as is Homeopathy (What other field in medicine, or even in the whole of science, can so readily answer across the boundaries of age, sex, species, condition, and circumstance while being governed by so few immutable laws?), the answers to many of our lingering questions about the subtle workings of the remedies must be available if we look for them. The answers to the critics and skeptics must be available if we look for them. The question then becomes one of where to look.
Our suggestion is to seek the answers to Homeopathy in other scientific and philosophical disciplines – to look at concepts common to Homeopathy through an uncommon application of other commonly accepted “truths”, concepts held to be universally true within these various disciplines.
We do not profess to have the ability of a Newton, a Darwin, or a Hahnemann. Our intent is just to propose one such uncommon application in the hopes of inspiring other, deeper thinkers to follow the lead and to propose explanations which will help further the acceptance and usage of Homeopathy.
Perhaps the most universally applicable field of study is mathematics. The concepts of math are used to describe everything from language to economics to planetary movements. And they can be used to explain at least one Homeopathic concept – the significance of the strange, rare, and peculiar (SRP) symptom.
In the analysis of any case of chronic disease, if the Homeopath can elicit a symptom from the patient which is so bizarre as to be almost beyond belief and can find a remedy which has that same bizarre symptoms in its picture, there will be a high degree of confidence in that remedy for that patient. But how can we explain the confidence placed in the matching of the strange, rare, and peculiar symptoms of the patient with the remedy? Why should a symptom like this be of more significance than a more common symptom in the selection of a remedy?
One possible explanation lies in the field of statistics and probability. In the mathematic analysis of data, the lower the probability of occurrence of an event, the greater the statistical significance of the event. If an event can be expected to occur 5% of the time (5 times out of 100 events = statistical probability p=.05) more statistical significance is placed on its appearance than an event which is expected to occur 95% of the time (95 times out of 100 events, statistical probability p=.95) because it has a lower probability of occurrence. In other words, the event with a statistical probability of .05 is less likely to be the result of chance or random occurrence than the event with a statistical probability of .95.
Thus it is with the strange, rare, and peculiar (SRP) symptom. A symptom is SRP if it is bizarre, an oddity, or not expected to ever be seen – a low probability of
occurrence. The SRP has a higher statistical significance when seen because of its low statistical probability.
Then to find a remedy with the same SRP further lowers the probability of occurrence. It is a symptoms not expected to be seen in any patient, much less in a patient and a remedy. To find a SRP in the patient and to match it in a remedy increases its statistical significance because there is a much lower probability of concurrent occurrence.
This high statistical significance makes the SRP a much more useful symptom when found in both patient and remedy than a more common symptom because its occurrence is so unanticipated and unexpected as to minimize the chance that its concurrent appearance in both patient and remedy is a random occurrence.
Contrast this with a common symptom. A common symptom is seen in many, if not most patients (high probability, low statistical significance) and many, if not all, remedies. There is nothing in the common symptom to statistically give us much confidence in the remedies it directs us toward. Thus the common symptoms are clinically of less importance in the process of selecting the individualized Homeopathic remedy for the patient (although these common symptoms are of utmost importance in deriving the allopathic diagnosis for the patient and for selecting the treatment for that diagnosis).
Mathematically the probability of every symptom in the materia medica can be determined (number of remedies containing the proven symptoms/total number of proven remedies or total number of symptoms). This would be a major undertaking and would only lend numbers to what practicing Homeopaths do every day in practice – rate the importance of the symptom in the case. These numbers would, however, validate our use of the SRP by offering an explanation for their importance. And they would help validate Homeopathy by showing it behaves according to the principles of an unrelated but universally accepted discipline.
Abstract: Explanations of the workings of Homeopathy may be found within other existing scientific and mathematical fields, if we look at these fields from a different vantage point. One such correlation may be found in the use of statistics and probability to explain the use of strange, rare, and peculiar symptoms in the selection of the remedy for the patient.
Key words: strange, rare, peculiar, statistics, probability
Submitted by: Glen Dupree, DVM
St. Francisville, LA 70775